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New South Wales - Glossary Term

Asylum (1800? - 1930?)


Asylum is a term used throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to refer to a place of refuge for the poor, destitute, aged and dependent, as well as for 'lunatics' (an offensive term used in the past to describe people with mental illness). Asylums were generally run by charities or churches, but funded by the government. The main children's homes in the nineteenth century were the Protestant and Catholic Orphan Asylums, and the Destitute Children's Asylum at Randwick. The Benevolent Society ran several specialised asylums. Its main asylum, near what is now Central Station, housed women and children and it ran the Liverpool Asylum for elderly men. Gladesville Hospital was the key asylum for the mentally ill.

Prepared by: Naomi Parry